weather from the west

🕔Sep 24, 2007

_Writer, poet, and Northwest Community College instructor Sheila Peters has released a new collection of poetry entitled the weather from the west. This is Peters’ third book, following the publication of Canyon Creek: A Script in 1998, and Tending The Remnant Damage, a collection of short stories, in 2001.
“I’ve been writing poetry and giving readings for many years now, and while individual poems have been published in various journals and other venues, it feels great to see a group of them all together, keeping each other company between the covers of my favourite technology—a book!”
Developed in collaboration with local visual artist Perry Rath, the weather from the west is a combination of 42 poems expressing Peters’ diverse experiences both near and far, and 23 paintings of Rath’s visual reflection, interpretation and vision.
Northword is pleased to present here a small sampling of this new, northern book._


The child bicycles against traffic
all the pleasures of a swim
melted into her sweat
blood on one knee
from when the damp bundle on the back rack
unravelled and tangled in the spokes
spilling her onto the gravel.

We bundle up our lives in string
bound to a rack on the back of some bicycle
trailing tatters in the dust at the edge of pavement.

Some stretch a long way back
tied on to something we hoped would hold us fast.

I can’t remember
which is the thread that matters.
There must be one to wrap around my bloody knee
and bind me safe to my beginning.

The bicycle propels us
but only by its tires turning
like the walking wheels of our hips
blood’s molecules circling in the labrynth of our bodies.

When did Ariadne feel herself the warm woman her ingenuity a spindle Theseus the thread she spun turn to stone? When did she finally feel her own body’s weight tighten the thread around her neck too weak to tether his boat too strong to save herself by snapping

The child bends over the handlebars
flying up the rise from the river
all the pleasures of a swim
trailing silver streams
from her dripping suit and hair traffic a slow arc around her.


the forest
in great blustering gestures
moans and empties its purse onto the ground.
Here, it wails. Here! Have it! Have it all!

Like the Dene in wild grief
the trees fling everything onto the bonfire of October.
Here we are, they shout, naked and exultant. Here we are!

And so winter is deprived of its grand entrance.
The fields are emptied, the houses stripped.
We shiver in our unaccustomed skins and wait.

the weather from the west

where the weather comes from the west
small birds gather
on the bare branches
beside my balcony

I stand face upturned snow flakes on my eyelids my cheeks in my open mouth

I melt distill the crystal messenger carrying this windborne dust released perhaps when the rock you kicked bounced down to the creek or the dog dug for a stick you tossed

I swallow

A song for the sorrow of crows

Across from the new transfer station
the old dump burns. Faithless gulls have flown
back to the coast and tattered eagles loiter
down by the tracks. A dozen crows hop lopsided
on the chain link fence.
The rest have moved to town
to sing their sorrow from the lamp standards.

We mistake their sobs
for the jeering of louts
loitering outside the coffee shop. Where else can you go they cry when you’ve bulldozed our fires and buried our fish pits? We gulp only what we need to keep our feathers shining motor oil in a ditch.
You have squandered us
turned our rummaging
into thievery.

I too am greedy
for the work of overturning potato peels and burnt chicken hair fished from a clogged drain huckleberry diapers
with my black claw.
I too know that something is released
by pecking at the greasy centre
of decomposition: the whimpering of dead puppies the voices speaking trampled letters the newlyweds smiling up through tire tracks the pink mouse snout in the clacking trap.

Don’t you hear our sorrow they sing?
We have been scattered
our crushed cassettes unspooling in the mud.
We sing the songs lost on the silent shining ribbons
riffling in the wind that slips through all the diamond links.


We are hungry for a thousand converstations.